Women with heart failure less likely to get heart pump device

Photo of a doctor examining a senior female patient

By American Heart Association News

Women are less likely than men to receive a mechanical heart pump that is becoming the norm for people with advanced heart failure, according to new research.

The study, published Friday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure, took a deeper look at long-standing differences in how women are treated for heart failure, a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen. Heart failure affects 6.5 million Americans, a number projected to rise to 9 million by 2030.

About 10% of people with heart failure have an advanced form. Many receive a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, a surgically implanted, battery-operated device that helps the heart circulate blood. For some people with advanced heart failure, an LVAD buys time before a heart transplant. Others get the device for longer-term therapy.

Research has shown certain groups are less likely to receive an LVAD.

People who live in low-income ZIP codes, are black or Hispanic or are uninsured or covered by Medicaid are less likely to get the devices, according to a study presented earlier this year at the AHA’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions. Past research also has shown women, who make up about one-third of advanced heart failure patients, receive less advanced therapy than men, including LVADs.

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